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Amato was spotted at the protest, which was countering a Back the Blue event in the Bronx, holding a sign that said “ACAB,” an acronym for “all cops are bastards,” the New York Post reported.
Local resident Wayne Gurman, who was participating in the pro-police event, took the photo when he saw Amato at the counter-demonstration.
“It’s laughable that Amato is running for Senate,” Gurman told the Post. “He’s a weasel beyond belief.”
Amato admitted to the Post that it was him in the photo, but claimed he did not realize what he was carrying.
“Someone passed me the sign and I didn’t know it said, ‘ACAB.’ I had no clue,” he said. “I totally grabbed the sign in haste.”
Amato is running for the state senate seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, for whom he once worked as a staffer before being terminated in 2019. Biaggi is now seeking a seat in Congress.
Attorney James Gisondi, who is running against Amato in the Democratic primary, shared the photo on Twitter, stating that Amato is “[u]nfit to hold public office at any level.”
Amato insisted that he is not anti-police, telling the Post that he was at the counter-protest because the pro-police event was held days after the death of George Floyd.
“The officers deserve our respect. But we need our officers to be culturally cognitive,” Amato said. “When there is social unrest, it is not the best moment to hold an event. You have to read the room.”